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Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/01/2018 :  06:20:29 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks again ed,

Wow! Another old guy and a pre-Boomer at that!

You previously mentioned the Taos Hum and Tamam Shud. Have you investigated railroad related oddities, such as Joe Baldwin, who was the infamous Maco Light? As I plan to have a small swampy area on the layout I though it might be interesting to model the phenomenum -- a DCC controlled and powered ghostly apparition.

If it is nothing else, Model Railroading should be fun.

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/04/2018 :  1:16:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bashing Vehicles

The one truck that I really want on the layout is the legendary Mack AC. The prototypes were built between 1916 and 1939 and they numbered over forty thousand. While the hoods were always the same, they came in a variety of body styles as well as several sizes; three, five and seven tons.

However, to match the other trucks on the layout (with the exception of the Walker Electric) the Mack Ac needs to have a flatbed body. Unfortunately, such a model has proven to be impossible to find in the genre of inexpensive R-T-R; or almost anywhere, for that matter. A Mack AC model with a closed body was marketed as a collectible under the Corgi Classics name. In addition, Lionel re-boxed and sold the same model as an accessory.

Much the same as the previously discussed Models of Yesteryear line, the Corgi Classics are mostly made of die cast metal with some plastic parts, which will compliment the existing familial look of the layout. The various Corgi Classics models were also made in different scales and the Mack AC is reported to be 1:50. In representing a prototype that is best described as hulking, the model appears oversize, but it isn't.

A Corgi Classics C906/4 "Mack Truck" was bought on eBay with the idea of a possible bash. It was the usual deal; a Buy-It-Now for ten bucks, with free shipping. Based upon photographs and the few prototype dimensions that I could find, the model closely approximates an O-scale Mack AC, but only from the firewall forward.

Unfortunately, from the firewall on back, the model represents a British truck and this, in itself, necessitates a bash. The prototype's tall and narrow Thornycroft body, that is supplied with the model, is the right size and shape to navigate the many, medieval Gothic arches that span the roads of Europe. However, when the model is used on an American layout, it has an ill-proportioned and cartoony look.

To facilitate the bash, a flatbed body is needed and one is available on a previously purchased, cast metal Ford Model BB truck. While this model is too big for the layout (it is a "pull back" toy truck in 1:43), its well detailed, flatbed body is a suitable length and width for mounting on the Corgi chassis.

Regrettably, to the detriment of the Corgi model, its chassis glaringly omits the signature Mack chain drive, but when bashing, you go with what you can get. Similarly, with the body swap, also missing from the chassis will be the familiar Mack cab.

Employing my trusty razor saw, I believe that the cab from the discarded closed body can be cut off and shortened to something more appropriate for American practice. While the shape will be somewhat different, it should be close enough, when seen from the usual viewing distance.

Eyeballing the parts (one never does much preplanning when bashing things together), it appears that the above combination just might work. With a bit of luck, there will be five layout vehicles that need repainting when the weather warms.

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/10/2018 :  8:49:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Some Notes On The Mack AC Hood, Radiator And Cab

By drilling our the customery rivet heads on the bottom of the frame, the Corgi model was separated into its constituent parts: the roof, the body, the frame (complete with fenders and wheels, but no chain drive components), and that unique Mack snout.

As the legend goes, the Mack AC was a key player in the transition taking place in land transportation between the existing age of the burly teamster, with his equally burly beast, moving cargo in wooden wagons and the emerging age of motorized freight. During these tumultuous times, the rearward mounted radiator of the Mack AC protected this rather fragile component from "incidental" damage. In a chicken/egg scenario, the French manufacturer Renault used a similar snout for its cars and trucks, but with a streamlined version of the Mack AC hood.

While models of the Mack AC and its unique snout are plentiful in other scales, with the recent demise of some makers of O-scale vehicles, the Corgi Classics variation may be the only one that is readily available. Although it was originally intended to be a part of a toy, the entire front end of their C906 "Mack Truck" appears to be a good reproduction in the scale of 1:48.

As the real trucks are rather rare and only a few prototype dimensions were uncovered during research, to provide a physical size reference to verify the 1:48 proportions of the Corgi Classics model, a Matchbox Models of Yesteryear, 1:60 Mack AC was acquired. With two manufacturers working in different scales at differing times, perhaps even using different prototypes, comparing their models to each other should show up any dimensional discrepancies. Except for the effects of industrial espionage, the possibility of the same error occurring, simultaneously, on both models is pretty slim.

Both models were carefully measured using digital calipers. The results were mathematically converted into their respective 1:48 and 1:60 scale dimensions, with a theoretical accuracy of, plus or minus, less than a scale inch. Remarkably, dismissing the differences in wheelbases due to the types of bodies modeled, there was only one major dissimilarity. The width of the radiator on the Corgi is 52 inches, while the Matchbox radiator is 43 inches wide. The other dimensions are consistently close, within a few scale inches of each other, and both models are quite close to the known prototype dimensions.

Curiously, the base list price of the real Mack AC included two oil lamps, tools and a toolbox and a hand operated horn (no doubt the mechanical ahooga kind), but no cab. There was just the steering wheel, gear shift and handbrake levers, plus the foot pedals, which were all operated from an open driver's seat. Therefore, the misshapen, recycled cab on the On30 bash can be considered prototypical.

Old technology tends to be quite pragmatic, which makes it appealing to study as well as fascinating to use. For example, the "doors" on the period Mack cabs were not really doors as we know them. They served the purpose of heat deflectors which led to the incongruous scene of driving the Mack AC with the cab wide open in the winter and driving with the cab closed in the summer.

The radiator expelled heat from its sides and, when in motion, the heat would curl around the outside edge of the firewall and enter the cab. In the cold weather this was good as there was no other means of cab heat. However, in hot weather, this was not so good, so the low "doors" were provided to deflect the heat around the outside of the cab. To allow drivers and passengers to enter and exit, the "doors" either slide backwards into a pocket alongside the seat or drop down vertically into a pocket alongside the frame.

Speaking of fascinating old technology, opportunities presented themselves, over the decades, to work with various forms of non-motorized transportation, including draft animals. While in modern times, the best know of the draft horses are the Clydesdales, there were also Percherons, Belgians and Shires. At the time of the early Mack AC, perhaps the Percheron was the best. Intelligent and willing to work, it does not have the customary draft horse "feathers" around ts hooves, making it suitable for working in mud, and its quick gate worked well when pulling loads on paved roads. Therefore, one may conclude the the early trucks were designed to match their performance, while moving similar loads.

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Premium Member

Posted - 02/10/2018 :  11:08:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Dan,

Very interesting back story on the Mack AC's. I am not sure if this helps you any, but I found these dimensions online:

Take care,

Country: Canada | Posts: 1213 Go to Top of Page

Frank Palmer

Posted - 02/11/2018 :  10:41:45 AM  Show Profile  Visit Frank Palmer's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks for the drawing Rob, I've been working on and mostly off converting a Lindberg 1/20 Peterbuilt Model 359 into a sorta kinda looks like Mack FK for some time. Always good to have more info.


Edited by - Frank Palmer on 02/11/2018 10:42:46 AM

Country: USA | Posts: 6164 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 02/11/2018 :  10:54:21 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Glad I could help Frank.

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/11/2018 :  1:22:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Rob,

You have found and shared something that has been eluding me and apparently others for some time and that is greatly appreciated.

A set of dimensioned drawings is often the bane of the basher's world, where the term "close enough" normally reigns supreme, and so it is here. Going through the data, it appears that, while the Matchbox and Corgi trucks are proportional to each other, both of the models are somewhat oversize.

Nevertheless, the aim of the project is to quickly and cheaply make an O-scale approximation of a Mack AC for use on the layout. For me, it is that iconic snout that documents the prototype builder. In my mind's eye, it succeeds in the following bash.

All the best to everyone,


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Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/11/2018 :  2:17:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Eureka! Serendipity Strikes Again!

Studying the dismembered parts of the Corgi Classics C906, "Mack Truck" led to the purchase of another Corgi Classics truck, The C820, "1929 Thornycroft" which uses a conventional arrangement of radiator and hood. While its display box clearly states that it is 1:43, it uses the same chassis, wheels and front fenders as the nomonal 1:50 scale Cogi Mack Truck. Although it has a different cab and an open body, which is similar to the already purchased Models of Yesteryear trucks, its body dimensions are very close to the Corgi Mack AC, making it suitable for inexpensive R-T-R in O-scale.

By drilling out the one rivet that holds the Thornycroft front end together, the radiator and hood assembly pops right off. In its place snaps the unique hood and radiator assembly of the Mack AC. The only modification needed was to trim the Mack AC windshield/firewall combination down to the bottom of its window panes. Although the resulting model's cab is a bit too tall, the Woodland Scenics figures that populate the layout are on the lanky side, which will tend to visually ease this vertical anomaly.

The photo shows the bashed model with the replacement Mack snout in place. Standing on the footboard is Waving Guy and behind him is yet another step up to the floorboards of the cab and the driver's seat. It is mostly the wide cab that compromises the model's proportions. The usual, narrow cab can be lower, as someone standing on the footboards will not have the cab roof over their head. For a size comparison, next to the hulking, five ton capacity Mack AC is the contemporary Ford AA, rated at only a ton and a half. Behind the Ford, standing on the ground, is Waving Guy's older brother.

Using the specified Corgi Classics vehicles, it is easy to put together an ersatz Mack AC (one can hardly call it a true bash). Eventually, in the grand scheme of things, a second Mack AC will be needed to haul logs for the planned plywood factory. This will be the real bash that was outlined previously. Using the cab salvaged from the Corgi closed body Mack and the flatbed body from another vehicle, which will require the lengthening of the Corgi chassis and the fitting of dual wheels to the read axle, the original model will be transformed.

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/13/2018 :  10:02:24 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
This remarkable image is a detail from a much larger photo. It shows and early Mack AC in the streets of New York City. Mounted low on the firewall is one of the standard pair of oil lamps included with the truck and the standard, hand operated ahooga horn. It also shows a gentleman sitting on the standard open driver's seat.

However, looming over his head is a wide and, therefore, high variety of cab. The image clearly contradicts the implied historic record formed by dozens of preserved ACs with their standard Mack cabs. A number of variations of non-standard cabs were being used on the New World side of the Big Pond, but being custom built and few in number, they did not survive.

Edited by - Dan on 02/13/2018 11:45:51 AM

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/16/2018 :  09:07:50 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
While today is cold and rainy, yesterday afternoon was warm and dry enough to spritz the dark brown paint on the Corgi truck body with the remaining contents of an old can of Testors Gloss Red. The ersatz Mack AC looks a bit better now and its color approximates the bulk of the company fleet.

When the fleet is being repainted at sometime in the future, the cab and body (an interesting one piece casting) will be lowered on the chassis about six scale inches, which will further improve its appearance.

With the need for a fleet of suitable trucks on the layout somewhat satisfied, it is time to get back to the trains.

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/22/2018 :  11:59:41 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Joe Baldwin's Light Or The Maco Ghost

Before the vehicle project started, I half-jokingly mentioned the possibility of adding a simulated spectral feature to the layout. Although it would be, visually, just a tiny speck of light from a white LED, the project has a complex dual back story that, depending on which of its versions you select, will work on just about any layout. The following contains the more salient points of perhaps the most famous of the spectral railroad sightings, the legend of Joe Baldwin's Light.

Joe Baldwin was said to be a conductor on the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad, a forerunner of the Atlantic Coast Line. Reportedly, he was killed in 1867 at a swampy area, sometimes referred to as a slough, on a branch of Hood Creek in eastern North Carolina. Farmers Turnout was the nearby station and water stop, which was renamed Maco in 1890.

Reportedly, Joe's body was decapitated in the wreckage and his head was never found. Afterwards, a mysterious, intermittent light was seen in the slough that, according to local legend, was Joe's ghost, carrying out a futile search for his missing cranium. Sometimes two lights were seen. As the locals explained, the second light was Joe's head, looking for his body.

Historically, a real life conductor was killed near that spot about a decade earlier; however his body was recovered intact from the wreckage and given a Christian burial. According to local newspaper records, his name was Charles Baldwin and he met his untimely end in January of 1856.

Taking into account the death and destruction that occurred in the area during the ensuing Civil War, it is quite plausible that the only living memory of the incident was the victim's last name and the location. Perhaps as a bit of badly needed levity, Joe's improbable postwar legend was based on the antebellum death of the real conductor. Joe's story was recounted, in all of its ghastly and ghostly as well as gory details, to yokels and carpetbaggers alike and it grew to be quite well known.

One of the later listeners was President Grover Cleveland, whose train made a water stop at Farmers Turnout in 1889. As the story goes, on alighting to stretch his legs, the President noted that the conductor used a lantern with a combination globe, green at the top and clear in the middle. Such globes aided conductors, working on nighttime passenger trains, in collecting tickets in darkened cars. It kept the lantern light out of their eyes and onto the handheld tickets, where it did the most good.

When asked about the lantern, the then former President was regaled with the story of Joe Baldwin. Further enhancing the legend was the reported need around the water stop for the conductor's special lantern, so the appearance of Joe's light would not prove a dangerous distraction for the train crew.

Sightings attributed to the Joe Baldwin legend date to 1873, but the light no doubt started back in Neolithic times when the creek and the slough were geologically formed. Joe's light failed to appear after 1935, when the aforesaid swampy area was filled in and that is the clue to the actual origins of the ghostly light.

The light was Ignis Fatuus, aka Will-o-the-wisp, a form of Phosphine. It is a naturally occurring, flammable gas that is created by the rotting of organic matter (the flesh and bones of animals) buried in moisture saturated, airless environments such as the muck and mire of the slough. The light occurs when small pockets of the gas form in the primordial ooze and leak to the surface, where the gas self-ignites on contact with the air. Furthermore, traces of impurities in the gas can cause its naturally white light to exhibit the various colors sometimes reported by observers.

As the decomposition of the entrapped organic matter is ongoing, the light can present itself at any time. However, the amount of illumination is quite small; therefore, it is normally visible to the naked eye only between dusk and dawn. When the decay is complete, the light will disappear for a time, another observed characteristic of Joe's light. The light returned when another member of the local fauna was captured by the slough and subsequently sank below its surface. Two concurrent, but separate victims will produce the reported double lights.

At this point, a true believer may interject, "Aha, but the light of Joe's ghost is reported as moving." Indeed, sometimes it gently hovered in one spot and moved wildly at other times. This is due to a visual anomaly, which is quite common in live human beings, that is known as autokinesis.

It is defined as a stationary, small point of light, in an otherwise dark or featureless environment (such as the surface of the slough on a moonless and starless night), that appears to move. Deprived of any background reference points, by which to visually pinpoint the location of the light, the viewer's mind starts to play tricks. As our sense of depth perception is also compromised under these conditions, the seemingly spontaneous spatial migrations of the light can be quite remarkable, as reported by observers of Joe's surreal illumination.

Nationwide, much of the natural habitat for such ghostly lights was destroyed during the Great Depression. As make-work projects, swampy areas were either drained or filled in to help curb the spread of mosquito borne illness. Nevertheless, Joe's legend did persist in a way, as his swampy perambulations along the railroad right-of-way were succeeded by occasional nocturnal sightings of headlights on a nearby road, but the effect was not the same. Except for rare visits by paranormal investigators, interest in Joe was on the wane.

The end of the headlight sightings from the railroad track came in 1977, when the right-of-way was abandoned and subsequently swallowed up by encroaching urbanization. Paying homage to the legend is Joe Baldwin Drive, a street in a nearby hosing development. As the Latin phrase relates, Sic transit gloria mundi.

Based on period first-hand sightings, a simple white LED or one that can also show additional colors would make a good representation of Joe's ghostly light. As far as replicating its random movements, that is something you need to see with your own eyes.

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 02/28/2018 :  12:45:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dollar Store Horses

As the history of the layout railroad begins in Edwardian times, a scene containing a horse and wagon would be appropriate. While a basic wagon can be built from old Popsicle sticks, various wood coffee stirrers and a set of wheels, an O-scale kit may be easier at my time of life, as long as it isn't too tedious a task. The major problem is, the kits do not come with horses.

Once again, my local Dollar Tree (a real dollar store) comes to the rescue. In the toy aisle, hanging on a peg next to a bag of farm yard animals, there was a bag of various sized molded plastic horses. Feeling financially flush, I decided to risk the dollar and brought the bag home.

Serendipitously, the bag of ten horses contained two pairs that are suitable for the layout. They stand about five feet tall at the shoulders (15 hands at the withers for the horse people out there) and seven feet tall over their ears. In the photo, standing amongst the ersatz equine pulchritude, is our old friend, Waving Guy.

The horses are shown in the raw, complete with flash and in need of paint plus some minor body work, but for twenty-five cents each, they are a good starting point. This size of horse is suitable for pulling the light freight wagons typically found in and around period towns and cities. However, compared to prototype motorized vehicles, horses are high maintenance and somewhat delicate animals.

The Great Epizootic of 1872 is an extreme example. In the fall of that year, almost one hundred percent of the horses were laid low by debilitating flu like symptoms that, within ninety days, had spread nationwide. Commerce practically ground to a halt and the necessities of life, such as coal and food for the coming winter, became scarce. In the Great Boston Fire on November 1872, sixty-five acres of buildings were destroyed, due to the lack of horses to pull the fire equipment.

Whenever practical, real horses were unhitched from their wagons, provided with food and water and allowed to rest. Since actual moving horses have yet to be effectively done, showing them unhitched from their loads, in a state of repose, is the best way to model them. On the layout, their wagon would be left at the factory loading dock. A hay rack and water trough would be interesting, easy to build details for the factory yard.

FYI, here s the data from the label for the bag of horses:

Horses/Chevaux, Imperial 46092, UPC number 7666646092, imported by Greenbrier International, Inc., 500 Volvo Parkway, Chesapeake VA 23320.

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David Clark

Posted - 02/28/2018 :  2:04:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dan, that was an interesting story about Joe looking for his head. It would certainly make for an interesting addition to the layout.

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 03/08/2018 :  2:03:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Upgrades For Layout Locomotives

After suffering through the Disappointing Davenports, a direct result of the Great Gear Debacle, I first swore at and then swore off Bachmann On30 motive power. Unfortunately, a layout without a working loco is just a diorama, so my early attempts came to naught. Still smarting from my previous experience, I investigated the relatively new Bachmann On30 Whitcomb locomotive for the present attempt at a layout and eventually purchased one.

As a newbie to DCC and its accompanying sound files, the only thing that was initially objectionable with the Whitcomb was the sound of its prime mover. Technically, there was really nothing wrong, as it was a recording of a narrow gauge prototype. However, its raucous sound was definitely not what my brain had in mind. Born at the end of the steam era, I grew up surrounded by the sounds of early diesels.

Of all the unique train sounds experienced in my youth; still rattling around inside my head lo these many years is EMD's masterpiece, the 567 powered diesel locomotive and this was the sound that my brain desired. Reinforcing those childhood memories are more recent adult recollections of working as the operator at Bay Tower, on what is now Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.

Although closed for a number of years, the tower stood across the main line tracks for the South End of Baltimore's Bayview Yaed. For moving around long cuts of cars, the yardmaster had at his disposal a "triple unit." It consisted of various late model, four axle road locomotives, often powered by the EMD 645, which for one reason or another, could not pass muster for mainline use.

At the same end of the yard, but on the opposite end of the motive power spectrum, was the "double unit." It was a pair of twenty year old SD9 locomotives that were ex-PRR. With each powered by a normally aspirated 567 driving six traction motors, the pair originally worked the hump at the North End of the yard. With the Penn Central merger and the formation of Conrail, the hump was used less and less and the engines spent their time flat switching the South End. Going from Run 8 to Idle and then back up again, with a protracted screech in between, as a dozen pair of clasp configured shoes were forced against the loco wheels by the application of the independent brake, they pushed and pulled strings of cars for hours on end.

While the switching operations on the current layout would be nowhere near that spectacular, I wanted sounds that would be representative of the above. I occasionally "codgertate" about things in my past and when old railroad memories are combined with operating the new layout, the effect is cathartic.

Regrettably, Bachmann is inconsistent with the DCC and sound installations in its On30 locomotives. For example, the Whitcomb and the 2-6-0 use customized setups, manufactured by SoundTraxx to Bachmann's specifications. However, many of the normal operating parameters that come with a standard SoundTraxx Tsunami are not included and the required plug-in modules, while producing SoundTraxx sounds, have only limited options.

The second On30 loco that I purchased was a sound equipped Bachmann 0-4-2. This and other locomotives use smaller, one-piece setups. While the number of sound options is still limited, the operating parameters equate to a SoundTraxx Tsunami installation and this proved to be an enlightening experience. After tweaking some of the factory set CVs, the little loco became the benchmark for layout use.

The last loco that was purchased was the first one to get converted. It was the latest version of the Bachmann 2-6-0, with DCC and sound mounted in the tender. When compared to the 0-4-2, its aforementioned Bachmannized setup left a lot to be desired. With some help from online forums as well as other sites, I soon replaced the setup with a SoundTraxx Tsunami2 2200 (P.N. 884002), When coupled with a new speaker (P.N. 810153), mounted to the tender floor with the recommended baffle (P.N. 810110), the sound improvement was dramatic, to say the least. After a couple of hours tweaking the applicable CVs (the Bachmann Dynamis system used on the layout is not known for programming speed), the converted 2-6-0 both sounds and operates like a real steam locomotive, or perhaps I should say, what my aging brain believes one should be.

While the Bachmann On30 Whitcomb was the first loco to be purchased, it was the last to be converted. Curiously, no information was found online concerning the replacing of the Bachmannized setup. Nevertheless, the good folks at SoundTraxx recommended their Tsunami2 TSU-PNP (P.N. 885013, software version 1.2) as a suitable substitute that included the sought-after sounds of an EMD 567.

After tweaking the various Tsunami CV values, the converted Bachmannized Whitcomb is now, quite literally, the diesel of my dreams.

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 04/13/2018 :  12:35:00 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A new Tsunami2 project

I bought a Bachmann inside frame 4-4-0 with DCC, but no sound. These diminutive, but quite handsome locomotives have been out of production for a while, so I am not sure if they ever came with sound. If they did, it would have been a Bachmannized version of a SoundTraxx setup.

The loco is equipped with the same DCC decoder (Bachmann 44915) as in the old Davenports and, as in the Davenports, it leaves a lot to be desired. I will never understand why Bachmann would equip its flagship, R-T-R, mass produced locomotives with such a poor performer and not just on DCC. On my original attempt at an On30 layout, their performance on DC was so bad I stuck with my custom built, pulse power supply. The decoders were disconnected and the supplied cut-out jumpers, which also come with the 4-4-0, were employed. At least Bachmann provided a way around the problem.

Now that I have tried the decoders on DCC, their operation is still far from acceptable. The bottom line is, the 4-4-0 will get a new TSU-2200 Tsunami2 installation (884002), complete with matching speaker (810153) and baffle (810110).

Fortuitously, the tender of the 4-4-0 comes prepped for sound with the grill for a one inch speaker molded into the floor. Unlike the tender of the previously converted Bachmann 2-6-0, in which the coal bunker intrudes severely, there is plenty of internal space in the smaller 4-4-0 tender, so no installation problems are anticipated.

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